S8E7: Never Broken: Harold “House” Moore Is Ready For The Most Important Role of His Life
Harold“House”Moore was on top the world–he was one of the stars on the Fox award-winning series“Atlanta”and had just played Dr. Dre in the 2Pac bio-pic“AllEyes on Me.’ Moore’s career was blossoming, but all of that changed when he was railroaded, maliciously and falsely accused and convicted of child molestation. He was sentenced to 6 to 12 years but was released after 2 years and granted a motion for a new trial, after a failed judicial process and intentionally suppressed evidence that would have proved his innocence threatened to surface. He is paving his way now as a fighter for judicial equality and criminal justice reform. In his first interview since his release, Moore is sharing his story with the hope that his journey will help inspire others to fight on behalf of the wrongfully convicted. Connect with Harold“House”Moore:
S8E6: Forced to Return to Prison After Serving 21 years: The Story of Matthew Charles
Matthew Charles’ life has seen some extraordinary turns recently. After spending 21 years in prison on a 35-year sentence, he was released in 2016. He walked out of prison with nothing, but soon created a full life for himself. It turned out, though, that his release was a mistake, and in May of 2018, he was sent back to serve out the rest of his sentence—more than a decade left to go. But on January 3 of this year, Matthew became one of the very first people to benefit from the First Step Act and was released again. On a visit to Washington, D.C., he got a chance to thank many of the lawmakers and people in the White House administration who supported the bill’s passage, including senators, Vice President Pence, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner. And through it all, Matthew has stayed remarkably grounded. Childhood was rough for Matthew Charles and his brothers and sisters. His family lived in cramped public housing in North Carolina, and his father was violent with Matthew and his brothers. Matthew got out of the chaos as soon as he could, joining the Army at age 18. When he was discharged, though, it seemed he hadn’t really left any of that dysfunction and hopelessness behind him, and he started dealing drugs. What followed was nearly a decade during which he was, in his own words, a “dangerous criminal.” He spent about five years in prison. At age 30, he was arrested for selling 216 grams of crack cocaine to an informant and illegally possessing a gun. He was given a 35-year sentence. At his sentencing in 1996, the judge described him as “a danger to society who should simply be off the streets.” There would be few people who would disagree. But then something happened. In prison Matthew could easily have crawled deeper into his shell of anger. But he didn’t. In fact, for the next two decades, Matthew didn’t receive a single disciplinary infraction. His prison life was directed at what the judge who resentenced him all those years later called “exemplary rehabilitation.” He immersed himself in Bible studies. He became a regular at the law library — but not just to work on his own case. He helped illiterate prisoners understand the letters they received from the courts, and he drafted filings for them. He took college courses and became a law clerk. And most important, Matthew became “genuinely repentant of his life before encountering the Grace of Christ, not offering empty excuses about his past, but taking ownership,” as a pastor would later describe him. In 2013, Matthew applied for a sentence modification because the Sentencing Commission had retroactively lowered guideline ranges for drug offenses. At his resentencing hearing, Judge Kevin Sharp commended his rehabilitation and reduced Matthew’s sentence. Matthew left prison in 2016. He didn’t have much to call his own at that point, but the positive outlook that he’d honed over decades behind bars helped him gain traction. He moved to Nashville, got a job as a driver, reconnected with his family, volunteered weekly at a food pantry called the Little Pantry That Could, and became deeply involved in his church. His boss praised his work as “meticulous,” and at the food pantry, the director said that Matthew was “one of the most amiable and friendly participants we have ever had.” But after a year and half of freedom, the court reversed the reduction in sentence, citing an error in his release. Remarkably, Matthew was sent back to prison. He was determined to keep bitterness at bay, but going back to prison was incredibly difficult for Matthew—and many people felt the same way. A local reporter told his sad story, and celebrities and advocacy groups threw their support to his cause, hoping he might receive executive clemency. In the end, though, it was the First Step Act that saved Matthew from decades more behind bars. Signed into law by President Trump December 21, 2018, the bill includes a provision to apply the Fair Sentencing Act retroactively, which the government agreed would allow for Matthew’s immediate release. On January 3, 2019, he left prison. A man of few words, he noneth ction. Would you like to join them and help FAMM work for reform that will impact people still serving absurdly long sentences? Click here to become a FAMM Advocate today and support the amazing work they do every day. *This episode was produced and edited by Conor Hall
S8E5: A Child Discarded: The Wrongful Conviction of Darnell Phillips
Darnell Phillips served 28 years for a crime he did not commit. In this compelling interview, Phillips shares the devastating story of his conviction and his hopes for his future as a free man. They are also joined by Lisa Spees, Director of Virginians for Judicial Reform. From University of Virginia, School of Law: September 26, 2018 Eric Williamson In a light rain, Darnell Phillips raised his hands to the heavens on Tuesday. The man who was sentenced to 100 years in prison for the 1990 rape of a child in Virginia Beach was paroled earlier in the day, about three years after new evidence was uncovered in the case by the Innocence Project Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law. He was free. Clinic Directors Jennifer Givens and Deirdre Enright ’92, and students met with their client at around noon at a Virginia Beach probation and parole office, following his morning release from the Greensville Correctional Center. They joined Phillips’ mother, sisters and fiancé to welcome him home. Some wore rain jackets, but Phillips didn’t mind feeling the weather. He was all smiles as he gave and received hugs. The jubilant mood, however, was colored by the fact that Phillips was at the office to register as a sex offender. He has not been officially cleared of the crime. Phillips’ brow was furrowed as he spoke to press about his ordeal. Prior to the decision by the Virginia Parole Board to release him, made six months ago, the clinic uncovered DNA evidence and received a sworn affidavit from the victim, both of which support Phillips’ long-standing claim of innocence. In 2015, the clinic found the physical evidence that set them down the path to DNA testing. They discovered that a rape kit and garments from the original investigation had been in storage at a Virginia Beach courthouse evidence room but had never been tested. After two labs failed to come up with anything conclusive from the time-denigrated samples, a third lab in California found evidence during the summer of 2017 that at least two men had touched the garments, and neither man was Phillips. In her affidavit, the victim said police told her that Phillips had assaulted other children, that his alibi did not check out and that her blood was found on his underwear at his home. “None of these statements was true,” said Enright, the clinic’s director of investigation. Givens, the clinic’s legal director, said Phillips was a model prisoner. “He had been in prison 28 years, and he didn’t have an infraction,” she said. “He’s been an exceptional inmate.” Phillips completed the required re-entry classes prior to his release. “He will be in supervised parole unless he receives a pardon or relief in the court,” Givens added. The clinic filed a petition for writ of actual innocence with the Virginia Supreme Court in 2017. Dennis Barrett ’09, an attorney with Schaner & Lubitz who was a member of the original Innocence Project Clinic and the first student to work on Phillips’ case, was among the additional well-wishers, which included current members. Students in the yearlong clinic investigate and litigate wrongful convictions of inmates throughout Virginia. “Dennis has monitored the progress in Darnell’s case ever since he graduated, and drove from Washington, D.C., to be present for his release,” Enright said. *This episode was edited by Conor Hall.
S8E4: Disentangling Mental Health and Criminal Justice
In this compelling interview, Vincent Atchity and Kelly Grimes join Jason Flom for a candid discussion about the criminal justice system and how it fails to support Americans with mental health challenges. Vincent Atchity has served as Executive Director of The Equitas Project since 2015. Vincent is an advocate for public health and health equity, a population health management strategist, and a builder of communications bridges connecting communities and community partners with better health outcomes and more efficiently managed costs. Kelly Grimes is a graduate of the Manhattan Mental Health Court, where CASES provides case management services, including treatment, planning and reporting on clients’ progress to the court. Kelly is now a certified peer specialist with CASES, as the peer specialist for the Manhattan Mental Health Court team. She has moved from being a client of the court to serving clients of the court. The Equitas Project, an initiative of the David and Laura Merage Foundation, envisions an America rededicated to liberty and justice for all, where there is a commonly held expectation that jails and prisons should not continue to serve as the nation’s warehouses for people with unmet mental health needs. Equitas is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which promotes mental health awareness, and champions laws, policies, and practices that prioritize improved population health outcomes, sensible use of resources, and the decriminalization of mental illness. We are committed to disentangling mental health and criminal justice. To learn more about our work and mission, please visit , and follow us on Twitter @EquitasProject and Instagram. *This episode was edited by Conor Hall.
S8E3: Freed after 38 years, Fred Clay is Ready For His Life to Begin
Update: Since this episode was recorded Fred Clay was awarded a $1 million settlement from the state, the highest amount allowed under Massachusetts state law. The settlement with the Massachusetts Attorney General was finalized Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court, the same courthouse where Clay’s conviction was vacated in 2017 and his freedom granted at age 53. In 1981, at only 16-years-old, . Research in these cases from The Brennan Center for Justice and New York University Law School and the Innocence Project.